We were Ready for my son’s Birthday Party Until…

Life is a special occasion, right? There is always something to remember and celebrate. At our house, with six children, there is usually a milestone to celebrate. We had a little celebration recently for The Boy’s birthday. I was in charge of putting together a special celebration to mark the latest spin around the sun.

It took The Boy a little while to actually make up his mind. He kept going back and forth between rock-climbing and jumping on trampolines. Trampolines won out. I went to the indoor trampoline park to book the party. After the venue was secured, we informed friends of the The Boy and their parents of the celebration. I implored fathers to attend the party so I would have friends to talk to.

Before the party, I needed to make return trips to order more pizza and make sure the guest count was accurate. The Oppressed and I went to the store to buy decorations and party favors. Pokémon was the theme of the party, and we travelled to the store to collect the appropriate favors. The Boy did not join us. He was too busy attending to the social demands of his schedule.

I need to recognize the efforts of The Oppressed here. Her vision regarding the party led to one of the signature items of the day. We had found some goodie bags to store the favors when my youngest daughter spotted plastic containers that resembled Pokémon balls. The balls were the perfect size to hold the favors and resembled the very item handled by characters in the Pokémon cartoon. Favors were prepared. Pizza ordered. Everything in place… Or so I thought.

A Birthday Cake

I had a birthday cake ordered for the party. The nice people in charge of the cake kindly requested 24 hours’ notice for the order. I gave 72. I know I’m kind and benevolent.

I asked to pick up the cake two hours before the party was scheduled to begin. I wanted everything to be in place for the party. I arrived promptly to pick up the birthday cake for the celebration. Alas there was no cake to be picked up and no humans around to answer my questions.

I look around. There is no one to rectify the situation. Time is running out and I need to find the cake. It’s getting desperate. Luckily, I recently read a wartime spy novel and was able to glean some basic skills. I just need to subdue an employee, secure their credentials, and make my way behind the bakery to find my son’s birthday cake. It seems a little involved, but I love my child and it is his birthday party.

I make my way around the store to find the necessary items to subdue the employee and secure their credentials. I expertly and covertly find and combine what I need. I have my quarry and am ready to execute my mission. They approach me.

“May I help you?” they ask.

“Why, yes,” I reply.” I ordered a cake and I’m here to pick it up.”

The nice person retreats to the back of the bakery and retrieves my cake. I bring the birthday cake to the front and pay for it. I discard the items I thought I would need to subdue an employee and continue on with my mission.

Party Balloons

It is now time to pick up the balloons for the party. We had ordered large, gigantic red, yellow and white balloons in keeping with the Pokémon theme. The party is scheduled to begin at 5:15. The balloon store is conveniently across the street from the venue and balloons are scheduled to be delivered at 5:00… Or so I thought.

I arrive at the venue with the cake and receive grateful cheers and adulations from parents and children alike. I go to the rented room and leave the cake on the table. I look around and admire the decoration and placement of the procured favors. I can’t help but notice a lack of balloons. A lack of large, Pokémon color-themed balloons. I ask Wife if she has seen the beautiful balloons. She hasn’t. I ask the nice people behind the counter if they have seen any beautiful Pokémon color-themed balloons. They have not. Something seems amiss. I call the nice people at the party goods store. Apparently, there was some miscommunication.

When they said the balloons would be delivered at 5:00, I didn’t know 5:00 actually meant the beginning of a two-hour window when we could expect the balloons. Considering we have the room for about an hour, this obviously doesn’t work with our schedule. I get in my car and drive across the street (it’s a fairly busy street and I don’t want to get hit by a car since I haven’t had pizza yet) to the store to get the balloons.

I return with the Pokémon color-themed balloons, and I see the pizzas have arrived. I leave the balloons in the room and see two fathers who have brought their children to the party. I rejoice at having fellow fathers to commiserate with. We talk until it is time for pizza.

Pizza is about to be served. Note the snazzy Pokémon-themed balloons on the right.

We adjourn to the room where everything is laid out beautifully for our guests. You would never know there was a SNAFU with the cake, or a slight logistical error with the balloons. Children and adults alike sit down to pizza and then cake. I mingle with the other adults who got sucked into another child’s birthday party. After eating, everyone leaves and someone else cleans up the mess. That may have been the best present of all, and it wasn’t even my birthday.

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Birthday Party

We are negotiating our way through January. The children are back in school. Wife is hard at work kicking butt and taking names, like she always does. I am sitting in front of my computer reading, writing, editing, and working on whatever comes in front of me.

The children have adjusted to their time being consumed by the cruel and unusual academic punishments. It was a nice Christmas Break, but I think the house is glad to have the little Miracles of Christ out and back at school.

We can’t just hit the ground running, though. There needs to be some consideration for the fatigue and struggles our children suffer. That’s why they invented three-day weekends. It gives them a chance to process the labors of the previous days and weeks. It’s tough. Not only do they have to sit through school, but sometimes, God forbid, there’s homework for them to do after school. Sometimes they’re able to suck it up and do it. Other times it’s a nightmare that never seems to end. It’s hard for them, too.

There are also times where they need to go to school, but it’s only for a half day. Again, this brings joy to their faces. For me, it means I have half the time to do what I need to do before heading back to school to pick them up. It’s incredible, sometimes. On full days, I ask what they did. They answer, “Nothing.” I don’t know what half of nothing is, but I get the same answer when I pick them up on half-days.

It’s the same thing when The Boy goes to his friends’ houses. They do nothing. He’ll bring a toy, maybe some Pokémon cards. When he gets back, he did nothing. Whatever it is, it’s easier than the legal torture he’s subjected to in school.

The children must admit, though, that life isn’t always readin’, ritin’, and rackin’ brains. There are times where the clouds open up and let a little sunshine in. Sunshine came on one particular weekend when the boy was invited to a birthday party. I escorted him. The party was a few towns away, which meant a little drive. I love driving, especially when someone is with me. It means a chance to play some music and talk.

An exterior shot of a Chuck E Cheese.
The site of the party.
(Photo: chuckecheese.com)

I look back at The Boy and ask if he’s ready for the party. Is he excited about it? He ducks out of my view and hides his face. He doesn’t want to talk. He just wants to get to the party and play with his friends.

The party is at Chuck E. Cheese, a haven for poor, mistreated innocent children like my son. The children congregate toward each other. I find grown-ups to commiserate with. One of the grown-ups just happened to be a neighbor. I coached his kids during one of my stints. We get to talking about parenthood and the thankless duties we perform.

He proceeds to tell me about the previous weeks his family had, which included a couple of hockey games they attended. I listen to the tales of family bonding and watching the Boston Bruins together. Snacks, drinks, and hockey. What a time they must have had. My children aren’t much for watching sports. Like you, my neighbor is a loyal reader and he’s well aware of where sports rank on the list of my children’s interests.

After a little game-playing and running around a crowded arcade, like children like to do, it was time for food. Pizza and chicken bites. Staples of a birthday party. My ongoing quest to shed some inches from my waist was sidetracked yet again. Both the pizza and the chicken were good. This led me and other adults to discuss where we get our pizza when ordering at home.

Pizza and chicken are finished. Time for cake. I decline the cake after going slightly crazy with the pizza and chicken. After cake, there’s a little time left for some more games before heading back home. The Boy and I play together in the final stage of the birthday party.

The Chuck E Cheese mascot posing for pictures with children.
A quick break from pizza and games.

Party’s over. It’s time to head back home. I ask The Boy if he had a good time. He did. I look in the mirror as I talk to him. He ducks and hides again. I adjust the radio. I was thinking about the talk of hockey, and I wonder if we’d be lucky to find a game. Sure enough, we do. I explain faceoffs, one-timers, and checking to the boy, who informs me that this is boring.

We get home. Wife is there. She asks how the party went. I tell her it was good. I talked to the neighbors. The pizza was good, and I ate more than I should have once again.

“What did you do?” Wife asked The Boy.

“Nothing,” The Boy answered.